How many times has the United Negro College Fund aired the commercial including the phrase: A mind is a terrible thing to waste? The world would be rich to equate the repetitions with dollar bills. This famous slogan was a means to promote higher education. Unfortunately, there are many people who do not fit the description of a college student due to poverty. An uneducated parent feels powerless in this society. A young teenage mother may feel that there is no feasible schedule possible to fulfill her dreams. An elementary student looks to his parents and teachers for answers to the question marks surrounding his environment of lack. The people that are in these types of situations are held down by poverty. Children who have financial hardship comprise a sizeable portion of Texas public schools. According to an article published in Family Circle magazine, teenage births increased by more than sixty-five percent during the 1980 s. There have been studies that prove persons receiving government assistance i.e. welfare have high illiteracy rates. What is the solution for the people suffering from these impoverished circumstances? It is of utmost importance that we prioritize and organize to set forth change . Our immediate attention as a nation will only make our economy stronger by putting a halt to the cycle. Poverty has the power to stagnate achievement. However, knowledge is power no matter where one may live. In order to break the power of poverty we need to educate our parents, offer vocational training for young single mothers, and encourage pursuit of higher education through the community.
Children of poor and poorly-educated parents are often caught in a vicious circle of educational failures. (Block 72) Their rate of success is much lower than the rate of their middle-class peers. This is largely contributed to the level of education one receives and is able to pass on to his children. Many under privileged people are unarmed with the necessary knowledge to steer their child towards educational improvement. There are also many people are unaware of scholarship programs and what it takes to apply for one. If the information were readily available many would still be unable to adhere to a specific goal plan due to the absence of strategic planning and the high illiteracy rate of adults. These ideals must be instilled at an early age by the parent. Failure to do so results in an immediate disadvantage to the child. According to a 1993 federal report: Only about forty-five percent of high-poverty homes receive a newspaper, nearly half the rate of higher-income homes. About fifteen percent lack dictionaries compared to three percent for more affluent families. Poor parents spend more time doing chores with their children, while other parents take their children on educational outings. Poor parents are less likely to have finished high school. ( Bazeley 727) These facts come with great consequence for the child and are great examples of what happens in the average low income home. The time is overdue for parents of poor homes to become more active in their child s education from early childhood. There are open Senate meetings and hearings that the common citizen can sit in on and react to but it takes someone who is willing to obtain drive to react for the sake of their future in America. It should become natural instinct for a parent to become actively involved in the pursuit of education for their child to excel. It is important for parents to get strong and learn in order to insure that their child will not experience life the same way they did.
When people use the literary skills they are learning in their work , they not only improve their literacy and productivity levels but also increase their language use with their children and in their communities. (Lewis 186) This supports the need for vocational training for mothers on welfare who are usually teenagers. Offering education to single parents and teenage mothers would also give them a better foundation in which to build their family upon. The real key to helping the young mothers is early prevention. There is a high mortality rate among teenagers who experience early pregnancy. It is a signal for an automatic start on the road to government dependency such as subsidized housing and welfare. Usually the children are born with drug and/or alcohol dependencies which automatically puts them in a negative position when it comes to their education. This escalates the need to reach the teen mothers when they are about to reach their sexual peak. The main focus is to guide the teenager into practicing abstinence delaying sexual activity. This job ties into the need for the parent to be more involved with the education process and progress. However once a child is born into that situation the young mother is placed in the position to be responsible. Vocational training would provide the foundation and confidence that the mother on welfare needs. This will allow her to boost her self esteem and will automatically affect the child in a positive way.
The most important of all things is to offer encouragement while the child is young. It is very rare that a child will possess the drive to overcome adversity while he is young. It is the parents responsibility to offer the goal of a higher education. Through the attainment of higher education the walls of poverty will start to come down one at a time. Parents play a critical role in offering cushion for school performance Time and time again studies show that being ready to learn before school starts is the best predictor of educational success, says Dan Keating, director of the Human Development Program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. (Dwyer 70) Teachers and counselors also play a critical role. Linda Garcia is a neighbor and a single parent of three teenagers. Her oldest daughter is already a mother of two, on welfare and has a boyfriend who is a drug dealer. The other two are in high school. After discussing her children s educational goals with school counselors, Linda became aware of the lack of concern that seemed prevalent. It appeared that counselors mostly encourage students who are naturally bright to excel past high school. Many counselors set up career plans with students who are high achievers and fail to respond to the students who are just making it. Inadvertently, these particular counselors are helping to suppress the desire that the below-average student may have to advance to college or beyond. Linda is a high school drop out and encourages her children but without additional forms of reinforcement her children may never excel past high school. We need to increase community and school participation in low-income families. Failure to recognize this problem denotes refusal to accept the economic changes that occur due to lack of education. Once we face this problem we will be able to grow more economically as a nation.
Poverty is a very difficult position to be in. Many times there is not enough food to feed the family. So many other times our children turn to gangs and violence instead of better education. Not only does poverty effect education but it affects health as well. Many people in poverty are unable to visit doctors. Children lose focus in school from lack of sleep due to the surrounding environment. These factors magnify the need to put a halt to poverty. More people have to be able to identify this major concern of our nation for the good of America. Without the help of society as a whole it may become impossible to put an end to poverty in the United States. Not all stories have horrible endings so there remains a faint hope. For example, consider a young woman who grew up in low-income housing and on welfare. She had to deal with lack of transportation, adequate clothing, and many time no food in the pantry. Her environment consisted of firing guns, fighting, drugs, and constant visits from the police. Her greatest responsibility was taking care of her little brothers and sometimes missing school because her mother had no sitter. As a young child she had drive and ambition. Her inability to actively participate in school functions intensified her drive to overcome her surroundings. Her biggest dream was to help others to overcome. Where is this woman now? She has begun her long awaited dream and is finally in college full time. What does she desire to attain from a higher education? The answer is simple ..she wants to be a teacher. She wants to leave a legacy and provide encouragement to others who may have experienced the same misfortune as a small child. No longer struck down by poverty she pursuing a degree in mathematics. Now her potential accomplishments are endless. Had she ever received encouragement from her mother? No. Just imagine how much closer her dreams would have been if her parents had given encouragement. Education remains the key to both economic and political empowerment. Barbara Jordan, 1991.
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